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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont

Seven years ago, after she had packed her youngest child off to kindergarten, Cupertino resident Hema Kundargi decided to take that extra step to serve her community. Last month, Kundargi was awarded the CREST—Cupertino Recognizes Extra Steps Taken—a laurel conferred on seven volunteers this year, who have made outstanding contributions to the city of Cupertino.

“I am elated and honored … to receive the CREST,” says Kundargi, a frequent contributor to the India Currents Recipes column. “It is indeed a validation of my contribution … definitely the icing on the cake,” she adds. What makes her set aside a chunk of valuable time for community service? “I believe in a quote by Anita Roddick: ‘If you think you are too small to make a difference, you have not slept in a bed with a mosquito.’ My activities are just a humble way of giving back to the community,” she says.

Besides serving the community, Kundargi sports a variety of other roles, including mother, writer, and television show host. Her cooking show on television, “Indian Vegetarian Gourmet,” has been selected as the winner in the Cultural and International category of the 2004 Hometown Video Festival. Awards are presented to creative programs that address community needs, develop diverse community involvement, and challenge conventional commercial television formats. In the San Francisco Bay Area, the Indian Vegetarian Gourmet airs on Ch. 15 KMVT, in Cupertino, Los Altos, and Mountain View.

It will be a doubly-deserving and proud Kundargi who will walk up and accept the award in Tampa, Fla., this month.